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Chocolate + Peanut Butter = Amazing Cupcakes

19 Jul

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When your BFF (Best Friend Forever – or at least for the past 15+years anyway) has a birthday, you go all out – especially when it comes to the dessert. Previous years have seen me making Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes and Rainbow Cake, but this year I had to go for her main love – PEANUT BUTTER. And what pairs better with it than CHOCOLATE? Nothing – the answer is nothing. It’s a match made in baking heaven

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I decided on Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes because we were going to one of those painting places (where you can bring wine, too!) and I knew I would want something easy to serve and that didn’t require cutting, or plates and forks. Oh – and I picked this recipe specifically because it featured Peanut Butter Cups INSIDE the cake – what a perfectly delicious surprise, right?

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cupcakes
(Recipe Courtesy Of Tastes Better From Scratch)

Ingredients
For the Chocolate Cupcakes
• 1 box chocolate cake mix
• 4 eggs
• 1 cup milk
• 1/4 cup vegetable oil
• 2 heaping Tbsp Greek yogurt
• 30 mini Reese’s cups , divided

Instructions
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
-Line 2 regular muffin tins with cupcake liners
-Mix together the cake mix, milk, eggs, oil and Greek yogurt until smooth
-Spoon batter into cupcake pans, filling the liners 1/2 full
-Place a Reese’s PB cup into the center of the batter in each cup and gently press it down a little
-Bake cupcakes for 16-20 minutes or until done. Allow to cool completely before frosting

Some action shots of the baking process:

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The peanut butter cups completely disappeared once baked – making them truly a surprise!

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So this came with an accompanying frosting recipe – but – I admit, I was completely UNsuccessful in getting it to work – which is why I didn’t include it here with my post. Seemed simple enough – peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter, milk – so, I made it, and was wondering why it was so soupy/oily…then I tried to put it on the cupcakes and it just basically melted off – so I knew something had to be wrong. I followed the given amounts, but maybe I screwed something up along the way?? I was pretty confused – but luckily my husband was kind enough to give it a second go for me, and unfortunately, his results were even worse than mine!

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The super oily (and unusable) result of the frosting recipe provided with the cupcake recipe in the original link

Followed exactly, the frosting recipe provided in the above link just DOES NOT work – AT ALL. If you can get it to somehow come together and stay on the cake and not be gross – then kudos to you! But – since I was unable to get it together – literally – so I ended up googling peanut butter frosting recipes – and using the very first hit:

Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting
(Recipe Courtesy of All Recipes)
Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons milk, or as needed
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions
Place the butter and peanut butter into a medium bowl, and beat with an electric mixer. Gradually mix in the sugar, and when it starts to get thick, incorporate milk one tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar is mixed in and the frosting is thick and spreadable. Beat for at least 3 minutes for it to get good and fluffy

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Luckily – this one worked great on the first try (thank goodness – as I was running low on peanut butter at this point!) – and turned out exactly as promised – fluffy and smooth, sweet and amazing! I didn’t have time to pipe it on (since the extra batches put me just a bit behind schedule – oops!), so I slapped it on with my trusty offset spatula, and decided each one could do with another peanut butter cup – because – why not?

The overall taste was great – cake was moist and combined with the frosting was just perfect. Then the surprise of the peanut butter cup inside was great, too. A winner all around (once I found a better frosting recipe!), and my BFF loved it, too!

Looks Aren’t Everything – TASTE Is! (Also Known As – The Tale Of How I Botched These Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies But Ate Them Anyway)

24 May

I follow so many food sites/pages on Facebook that my feed is like 90% recipe videos – which is basically amazing, and also a curse – as it always makes me starving, and then cranky when I realize I don’t have a personal chef to whip up said recipes for me on demand (boo!)

But – luckily I DID have all the ingredients for these Buckeye Brownies on hand (Damn you Tasty – your recipe videos are the prettiest and most tempting of all!), so here goes nothing!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies (AKA Buckeye Brownies)

INGREDIENTS

1 box brownie mix, with additional ingredients according to box instructions

2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup peanut butter

½ cup butter, melted

6 tablespoons butter

1 cup milk chocolate chips

PREPARATION

1. Prepare brownie mix according to box instructions.

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2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine together the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and melted butter.

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3. Distribute scoops of the peanut butter mixture on top of the brownie and flatten the mixture to achieve an even layer.

4. In a small bowl, combine the milk chocolate chips and butter. Microwave in 15-second intervals until melted, stirring after each interval.

5. Pour the chocolate mixture on top of the brownies, then evenly spread to achieve a flat, even layer.

6. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

7. Enjoy!

Here’s the Step By Step Video to help you along – and to make you drool a bunch (You’re Welcome!)

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So – ok. A few side notes

I didn’t actually have any boxed brownie mix on hand – so I turned to the Best Brownie recipe I have made several times before – as I did have all that stuff on hand already – yay! However – that recipe makes an 8×8 pan – so – that’s where things got a bit dicey….

The brownies turned out amazing – but since it was a smaller pan, I decided to half the topping, and when I made the peanut butter layer it just seemed so dry and clumpy, that I ended up adding a bit of milk and some vanilla to give it a more frosting like consistency. Delicious? Yes. The best idea? Not really…

Clearly mine did NOT turn out as pictures/depicted on Tasty – and honestly, that’s my own fault entirely – as the “peanut butter frosting” layer (which seemed like the best idea ever at the time) was never going to fully set/harden up, so then the chocolate on top (which DID harden up in the fridge) cracked a bunch when it was cut up.

The End Result – a not so pretty brownie. That being said, it tasted AMAZING – the rich fudge-y brownie, the the smooth, sweet peanut butter, and then the chocolate topping – what a dessert! Next time I will definitely follow the recipe as written, but for now if anyone needs me I will be off sloppily devouring these gems

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes = The Perfect Summer Birthday Treat!

15 Jul

When my BFF told me she wanted strawberry lemonade cupcakes for her 30th birthday cake – I was kind of surprised. I mean, I knew they existed, but it’s certainly not a “typical” birthday cake flavor – chocolate, vanilla, even red velvet – those tend to be the norm. But hey, it’s her birthday, and if she wants to try something new, I’m game!

So, I browsed the internet for a recipe (what did we do before Pinterest and Google? Seriously!), and got down to business!

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes (Recipe Courtesy of Eating On A Dime)

Ingredients
1 box White Cake Mix
1 box Strawberry Jell-O
2 tbsp Sweetened Lemonade mix
16 oz thawed package Frozen Strawberries in Sugar (or your could use FRESH strawberries when they are in season)
3 Eggs
⅓ cup Vegetable Oil
½ cup Butter
3 cup Powdered Sugar
⅓ cup Sweetened Lemonade mix
2 tbsp Water
Chewy Lemonheads candy (optional)

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Got all my ingredients – and I’m ready to bake!

 

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Stir together Cake mix, dry Jello and 2 tbsp lemonade mix
3. Puree strawberries
4. Add strawberries, eggs and vegetable oil to dry ingredients
5. Mix until smooth and blended
6. Place liners in cupcake pan and fill ⅔ full
7. Bake about 20 minutes
8. Allow to cool completely

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I don’t know about you – but I LOVE strawberries – and am stoked there are REAL strawberries in this cake recipe (instead of just like boxed strawberry cake mix or something)

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So pretty and pink!

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I can’t even describe to you how amazing this smelled while baking – the cake-y strawberry-y scent was great – and tempting – made me want to shove like 4 in my mouth immediately after they were done – but restraint was practiced – thankfully – since they would have burned my mouth anyway ha!

For Icing
1. Cream butter in a medium bowl
2. Slowly add in the powdered sugar and ⅓ cup lemonade mix. Add water as needed, until everything is incorporated and frosting is right consistency
3. Transfer icing to piping bag or zippered bag and clip corner to pipe
4. Ice tops of each cupcake
5. Optional: dust with sparkling sugar and lemonhead (or a fresh lemon or candy lemon).

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Just a few notes:
I doubled the frosting recipe as I was running out after I had frosted only half of them – and maybe I was a little extra generous with the frosting – but I am a HUGE frosting fan, and let’s be real – they are just prettier with more frosting! I also skipped the crushed candies and lemon garnish – they were way cute with just the straw!

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The Birthday girl really liked them – and I have to say, I really did too! The cake itself was moist, and had a great strawberry flavor, and the frosting – while a bit gritty from the lemonade mix, was still really good, was sweet but a bit sour too from the lemonade

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Everyone really liked them – including my men

(…of course, they like most baked goods, but still – I am glad they were well received!)

These would be perfect to bring along to a summer picnic – wouldn’t they look cute on the buffet line? I was surprised at how much I enjoyed them – so much so that I might just make them again for fun!

My Little Helper (AKA The World’s Most Adorable Sous Chef)

24 May

My love of baking is something I really hope I can pass on to my son – I know he likes eating my baked goods already, but I want him to appreciate the time and effort that goes into them, too! I have been letting him “help” me in the kitchen for a while now, with extremely adorable results:

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He actually did pretty well standing on a regular dining room chair, but when I saw a picture of a “toddler helper” stool on pinterest, I knew it would make a great project for my dad (who is always looking for something to do to keep himself out of trouble!). It turned out great, and was super easy/cheap for him to put together. Check out how you can make your own here

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My mother in law made us matching Mickey and Minnie aprons – aren’t they amazing? Perfect for me and my little sous chef!

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He REALLY enjoyed helping me make sugar cookies, and enjoyed the frosting we made for them even more!

I really hope that giving him the chance to help in the kitchen (and yes, make messes, too!) will keep him coming back for more, and keep him interested in helping and learning, too!

Cookie Decorating 101

27 Jan

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Here’s my little guy’s first attempt at cookie decorating… Obviously he has a real future in pastry arts, wouldn’t you agree?

(my personal favorite is the bottom right one – where my husband attempted to take away his frosting. It did NOT go well…)

Beer Cinnamon Roll Biscuits

19 Jan

My Husband’s birthday was on Friday – and after almost nine years together, I find that it really isn’t about the money you spend on a gift, but rather the thought and work that went into it. Plus – since we just had a baby, saving money is a big thing for us right now. Which is what got me to thinking about what I could make for my husband for his birthday (versus buy), and I thought about things he likes – and the two things that top the list are BEER and FOOD. So, why not combine them both and make him something he can eat – with BEER in it!? This isn’t the first time I have done this, but it IS the first time I have tried making a beer inspired breakfast item – and the two items went together better than I thought they would!

Twenty Minute Cinnamon Roll Beer Biscuits (Recipe Courtesy of The Beeroness
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
20 minutes
Yield: 10-12
Ingredients
For the Cinnamon Rolls:
3 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
10 tbs unsalted cold butter, cut into cubes
¾ cup pale ale or wheat beer
1/3 cup buttermilk
6 tbs softened butter
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
pinch salt
For the Icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions
• Preheat oven to 400.
• In a processor add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
• Pulse to combine. Add the cold butter, process until well combined. Add to a large bowl.
• Add the buttermilk and beer. Mix with a fork until just combined.
• Add to a well-floured flat surface, pat into a rectangle. Using a cold rolling pin (preferably marble) gently roll into a large rectangle, about 3/4 inch in thickness, using as few strokes as possible.
• In a medium sized bowl add the softened butter, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and pinch of salt. Stir until a paste forms.
• Spread the dough with the butter mixture. Starting at the long end, roll into a tight log. Cut 2-inch rounds, place in a baking dish.
• Bake at 400 for 12 to 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
• Allow to cool.
• Stir together the powdered sugar, buttermilk and vanilla until well combined. Serve the biscuits topped with icing.

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I followed the recipe exactly as written – and I found that the only difference was that they took a bit longer to bake – about 20 minutes total

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These were easy to throw together and were a huge hit with the birthday boy!

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In keeping with the beer and food theme, I also made White Bean Chicken Beer Chili and Beer cheese biscuits for his birthday dinner – they both turned out really great as well! If you have a beer lover in your house then I suggest you check out the Beeroness’ Blog – it’s full of great and easy recipes (plus the pictures are seriously drool-worthy!)

This Rainbow Cake Will WOW Your Party Guests (PS – It’s EASY To Make Too!)

5 Aug

 

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The evolution of the rainbow swirl cake

You can’t have a birthday without some kind of cake – am I right? I mean, “cake” is loosely defined sometimes, as I have had birthday cookies, birthday cookie cake, birthday pie, birthday ice cream…ok so what I am saying is that the best way to celebrate turning another year older is with sugar. Lots and lots of it. And cake is the traditional choice – and with so many ways to make it, there’s no reason why you have to stick to the same old thing year after year

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My best friend turned 28 this year – and it’s hard to believe we have been friends for over 13 years! I always like to make her a cake for her birthday, and this year she requested a “rainbow cake”. Now, there are several ways to go about this, including making a huge layer cake with 6 different colored layers. While that would have been impressive, I knew I probably didn’t have it in me – precision is so NOT my thing. So I opted for the “rainbow swirl” cake – seemed simple enough

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I started with your basic boxed white cake mix, and divided it up evenly into 6 bowls, adding food coloring to each to make purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. It took some time to get the colors right – and some arm power to mix them all up too!

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Then it was time prepare the two cake layers – which I did by taking a ¼ cup measuring cup and scooping one of each color into each cake pan. Once I had all the colors in there, I carefully swirled them together with a butter knife – being careful not to overswirl. The ready to bake and baked versions looked pretty good to me, but I couldn’t wait until birthday time to cut into them and see how the rainbow turned out!

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Here’s the birthday girl with her decorated cake – I used my favorite Crisco frosting recipe and had a little decorating help from my husband – didn’t he do a great job?

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It turned out pretty awesome – and it really wasn’t much more work than just baking a regular cake from a cake mix. You could use colored cakes in a lot of ways – check out these other “surprise” cake ideas, and bake up something colorful and fun for your next birthday celebration!